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March 2, 2020

The Invisible Man (2020) --- “What You Can't See Can Hurt You”

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Hello, Movie Buffs!
     Directed and written by Leigh Whannell (Insidious: Chapter 3, Upgrade), The Invisible Man (2020) is a science fiction horror film and a contemporary adaptation of H.G. Wells’ (Time Machine, War of the Worlds) 19th-century novel of the same name. Trapped in an abusive and controlling marriage with wealthy and brilliant tech scientist Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), Cecilia (Elizabeth Moss) escapes in the dead of night and disappears into hiding with the aid of her sister (Harriet Dyer), their childhood friend James (Aldis Hodge) and his teenage daughter Sydney (Storm Reid). Two weeks after escaping Cecilia learns that Adrian has committed suicide and left her a generous portion of his vast fortune but soon Cecilia suspects Adrian’s ‘death’ was an elaborate hoax to torture her beyond the grave. As a series of eerie coincidences turn lethal, threatening the lives of those she loves, Cecilia's sanity begins to unravel as she desperately tries to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see. Will she be able to prove her discovery and save those she loves before the Invisible Man destroys everything 
     Throughout the years there haven’t been many adaptations of H. G. Wells’ novels. Most of them transpired between the 1930s - 1950s, with only a few actually making it to the 21st-Century. The most famous or most well-known of his book-to-film adaptations are Time Machine (1960 & 2002), War of the Worlds (1953 & 2005), and our very own The Invisible Man (1933 & 2020). What makes this version different than the 1933 version is Whannell flips the script’s point of view to that of the titular villain’s victim while also exploring an age-old issue that is currently making headlines - to believe victims of sexual harassment and psychological abuse even when the evidence of the crime is awfully hard to come by most of the time. The film is produced under Blumhouse Productions - the same house that helped in the creation of other notable films such as The Purge series, The Happy Death Day series, Upgrade (2018), Truth or Dare (2018), Fantasy Island (2020), and The Hunt (2020) - and is delivered in a way that gives it a 90’s thriller feel complete with an Alfred Hitchcock style score. The film is very ingenious in how it takes a familiar story about a hero/heroine trying to convince those around them that something sinister and unexplainable is afoot. The story modernizes Well’s text by bringing awareness to how toxic men try to control and emotionally manipulate women because it gives them satisfaction and a sense of power. The invisible man represents the shadow of an abusive relationship - whether it was one between friends or lovers - clinging to the victim psyche even after the relationship has long since ended. It shows how even when the physical abuse has stopped, the psychological abuse goes much deeper, deep enough to affect those around the victim. Of course, while the story is great in how it pits everything against the heroine, it is also great in how it shows her gaining strength and courage to face her tormentor, seeing it through until the very end. 
     The production design and visual effects are incredible. The clean lines and angles of Adrian’s home and the mental institution are a stark contrast to the warmth of James’ modest family home. Cinematographer Stefan Duscio (Upgrade, Jungle) is sharply edited with elegant and clever camera moves that highlight Cecilia’s isolation and make otherwise simple set pieces look terrifying. The music score by Benjamin Wallfisch (Hidden Figures, It 1 & 2) only manages to intensify all the points that the cinematography hits. 
     The cast performances were solid throughout. Who better to play Cecilia then the certified contemporary queen of unhinged screen heroines - Her Smell, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Us - Elisabeth Moss. Portraying a woman who is being tormented and manipulated into thinking she’s losing her mind is something that Moss accomplishes with great ability. She manages to deliver what audiences crave for in a female heroine and the script gives her room to stretch some complex elements while also casually winking at an empowered girl in the end. Oliver Jackson-Cohen (The Haunting of Hill House) as Adrian is only actually scened a few times throughout the film, and yet he easily mixes charm and menace into an unhinged sociopath that makes your skin crawl, especially when he appears calm. Michael Dorman (Daybreakers, Patriot) delivers a stand-out performance as Adrian's brother/attorney. He easily makes you hate him for picking his brother’s side but you also sympathize with him because he was most likely Adrian’s first victim and is possibly suffering from Stockholm-syndrome. Supportive performances by Harriet Dyer (The Other Guy, The InBetween) as Cecilia's sister Emily, Aldis Hodge (What Men Want, City on a Hill) as the Cop James Lanier, and Storm Reid (A Wrinkle in Time, Euphoria) as his daughter Sydney are a great dramatic trio to the story and offer great support/contrast to Cecilia.
     Overall, The Invisible Man (2020) is an entertaining sci-fi horror film that didn’t lack in jump scares or tension. The film keeps an even pace of suspense and thrill thanks to some nice cinematography, sharp editing, and the music score. The cast performances were solid throughout and could not have been chosen better. This is a very entertaining film that is sure to audiences from beginning to end, and if you're like me and you’re not a fan of horror films like Insidious or Annabell, then The Invisible Man is the perfect option for you.

Final Vote --- 9 of 10 stars

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The Hunt (2020)
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Truth or Dare (2018)
Upgrade (2018)
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